MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Navy chaplains have been following Marines into battle since 1778 not wielding a weapon save one – the scriptures.
Navy Lt. John Jacob Eastman, the command chaplain of the Marine Corps Engineer School at Courthouse Bay here, has been selected to receive the 2007 Witherspoon Award for his commitment to and encouragement of Bible, from the National Bible Association, a non-profit group dedicated to the promotion of the Bible.
“His innovative programs at the School of Infantry, engineer school and his dedication to the Bible made him an obvious choice,” said Navy Capt. Lee Milliner, command chaplain of Marine Corps Installation East and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.
The Witherspoon Award is given each year to a military chaplain who demonstrates a commitment to Bible reading and who encourages Bible reading in a unique way, according to National Bible Association’s Web site. Also used in the determination of the recipient is the chaplain’s creativity using the Bible to make scripture come alive in real life situations that bring measurable results.
Rotated among Army, Navy and Air Force, the Marines and Coast Guard are honored under the Navy branch, the award this year fell on the Navy and its more than 860 chaplains.
“The Bible has the ability to change lives – it’s changed mine and the work of other chaplains should never be discredited; I think every chaplain deserves an award for their hard work,” said Eastman.
Eastman has changed lives, explained Cdr. Alan Hansen, deputy chaplain for Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.
As a champion of the Bible, Eastman developed a large Bible Learning Center and Religious Library at the Courthouse Bay Chapel whereby students, staff and families can obtain relevant information on the Bible, its history, interpretation and daily application, said Hansen.
Eastman’s cultivation of technology to promote Bible study has been instrumental in the relaying the message to a larger group, said Hansen.
By stocking the Bible on CD or DVD in the learning center so that the personnel can listen to the scriptures on their own time and creation of a monthly Internet based Bible devotion throughout his command truly fosters an atmosphere that inspires users to integrate the Bible into their personal, family and work life, said Hansen.
Also affecting large groups, during his time at SOI and his current assignment at MCES he has helped facility the weekly distribution of thousands of pocket Gideon Bibles and “Spiritual Battle Kits” comprised of a small pocket New Testament, Daily Bread Devotional and an annual Bible reading program, he said.
Eastman’s creation of large programs to address the needs of many has not forgotten to work with service members one on one, said Milliner.
“He has been recognized twice by his command, receiving two Navy-Marine Corps Achievements medals for his devotion to serving the service members of those commands,” said Milliner.
It is uncommon for someone to receive two impact medals during one assignment, but it is indicative of the influence of his work, said Hansen.
Eastman is slated to receive the award during the National Bible Week Awards Dinner Gala in the Essex House in New York City Nov. 15.
For more information about the award and its history, visit the National Bible Association’s Web site athttp://nationalbible.org.